Adopted MP's powerful letter to his adopted son: 'It's the most selfless act'

A new MP's letter to his son shares the painful and powerful story of a mother's decision to let go of her child.

It's a letter from one adopted man to his adopted boy.

The letter was read out by Mr Eagle, Labour's new Member of Parliament for Rongotai, during his Maiden Speech on Wednesday night.

Mr Eagle said his birth mother had to give him up because she couldn't afford to keep him. He was born the year before Norman Kirk introduced the Domestic Purposes Benefit in 1973.

"If the DPB had of been around when you were a baby, I could have kept you," his birthmother told him after they reconnected 20 years later.

"There was no State support or sympathy for solo parents back then," he said.

Mr Eagle had to pause in his reading when he reached a description of his mother's sadness. New MP Willie Jackson rose to stand beside Mr Eagle in support.

Paul Eagle with Willie Jackson.
Paul Eagle with Willie Jackson. Photo credit: Parliament

"My birth mother told me of her sadness and how she missed me and worried about how I was doing," Mr Eagle said. 

"At shopping malls, she would look at each little Māori boy and wonder if it were me.

"But over 45 years later, it's still nice to know that she wanted me and would have kept me if she could."

Mr Eagle told his son that when his birth mother gave him up, "what she did was give me a loving family, a happy childhood, the best shot at life a boy could ask for, and a place where your dad truly belonged".

He said he now understands how difficult that decision was, but "to decide to let go of a child is the most selfless act any person can do".

Maiden speeches are often used to lay out an MP's goals for their time in Parliament.

Mr Eagle said he wants to make sure everyone has a home, education, healthcare and "a place to belong".

Paul Eagle after his maiden speech.
Paul Eagle after his maiden speech. Photo credit: Parliament

He will introduce a member's bill to reform adoption law "because it's time the secrecy ended once and for all and we open up adoption to the thousands of Kiwis who are desperate to provide Kiwi kids with the best shot in life".

Mr Eagle is the first Māori man to win a general electorate seat for the Labour Party.